Why do Shaikhs make entrepreneurs practice yoga?

6 min

Want to be a better leader?Include yoga in your company’s life.



Entrepreneurship Conference in the Middle East sets an example of including yoga in a business environment.

I finish my conversation with organizers of the Manama Entrepreneurship Week conference, who advise that if I want to take part in workshops during the upcoming conference, I have to hurry and sign up right away because the event is drawing a lot of interest. I drink coffee, open laptop, go to www. manamaweek.com and I rub my eyes in surprise. In addition to the strictly business-related topics, such as social media toolsets, virtual reality solutions for education and business, intercultural communication for leadership, Power Yoga classes are included. At first I jumped on the chair with joy, because there are two classes led by the founder of American Power Yoga ! This appears to be rather exciting! I become slightly dssapointed and nervous when I am forced to sign up for the waiting list! Nevertheless, I am happy to see , for the first time in my life, a business conference, where business and yoga are seamlessly merged.

While the coffee cools off, I catch the phone and call the organizers again. I congratulate on the idea and ask whose idea was it to introduce yoga workshop to a conference on entrepreneurship and the development of business leadership? I learn that H.E. Sh. Hisham bin AbdulRahman Al Khalifa, the Governor of Capital Governorate, was the one who initiated the conference, and personally recommended the invitation of Kurt Johnsen, founder of American Power Yoga.

Up till now, conferences or business trainings on which I could jump on the mat have so far been the events I had organized myself. Branding and business specialists advised me not to show my part of yoga and body work lifestyle, explaining that it would not be good for my image of an intercultural communication expert and lecturer. So quietly, I continued my long-term practice, gave private lessons, did international workshops, and dreamed of better times when I can merge business, science and yoga. Today I realized that these days have  finally came.

In the Middle East, Sheikhs have developed strong interest in asana practice and yoga has become a regular practice for business people who are overwhelmed by the tremendous amount of responsibilities and deadlines they struggle with. The interest in this old Indian practice is reflected in the popularity of events centered around this subject. Last February, the Dubai Tourism Department organized the largest yoga festival in the Middle East under the name of XyogaDubai. More than 10,000 people attended the event, including the prince of Dubai, Shaikh Hamdan, who is known as a sports enthusiast and healthy lifestyle promoter. The festival was attended by both the Bolywood stars and the most famous and respected yoga teachers in the world .

Social media was thrilled with #Xyoga and #Xyogadubai. The view of several thousand yoga mats along with practitioners at the streets of Dubai was spectacular.

Wellbeing along with quality of life is a real luxury now.

When I asked the organizers of the Manama Entrepreneurship Week where did the idea of promoting yoga during the business conference come from, I heard that the sheikhs are aware of the effects that yoga has on people. More and more business people consider it a luxury to have a high quality of life. We are not talking about external status attributes, but about being well. People turn into yoga because they see how it changes the quality of their lives, and therefore the attitude to work, which in turn translates into enterprise’s financial results.

Yoga is an effective treatment for the fatigue as it combines movement, rest and stress reduction with the development of prana (life force energy) and the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system. Vishnu Prasad

In 2011, Forbes magazine published an article by Stanton Kawer, president of the American marketing company titled “Yoga Made Me A Better CEO” . Kawer proudly says, “What he respects in yoga is the fact that it promotes a culture of conecting heart and mind , which brings phenomenal results. Kawer has been inspired by yoga practice that silences the mind and helps to control stress and emotions. Every meeting with employees he starts with a command to take a deep breath first.

Another leader, who adopted daily practice of yoga, was Andre Borshberg. This Swiss entrepreneur broke the world record by encircling the globe with a solar-powered airplane as part of the Solar Impulse project. When Andre crossed the longest flight, flying 5 days and nights from Nagoia to Hawaii, the remaining 60 project crew were stationed in Hawaii. Andre invited to this project yoga teacher whom he met during one of his stays in India. The teacher prepared him to use breathing techniques, meditation and body stretching that helped him break the world record, and a team that coördinated the entire logistical and administrative part began every day with yoga. Yoga practice has played an important role in the piloting of Solar Impulse.

“One of the things I learned was to become an observer. Faced with a difficult situation, this strategy allows us to separate ourselves from stress and deal with the situation.” Andre Borshberg, Solar Impulse

Sheikhs from the Arab Gulf countries have already realized that yoga practice results in peace, happiness and prosperity. Both yoga workshops led by Kurt Johnsen called Empowerment through  Power Yoga were a huge success. Kurt shared his insights on developing strength, managing breath and putting intention into every single practice.

Now it’s time for you.


Interested to learn more about implementing yoga into your life or workplace?

Learn more about our digital detox retreat BUILD YOUR INNER FEED.

Katarzyna Richter

Founder and CEO of Deal With Culture


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Make your life more positive and fulfilling by exploring handpicked science-based tools designed for your business and personal life to flourish.